New deals for IMAX (Nasdaq: IMAX ) installations are coming so quickly, that the cinematic superstar is now announcing them two at a time.
A pair of press releases yesterday details IMAX's growing global appeal. The first deal is a stateside one, as IMAX will be teaming up with Rave -- the country's fifth largest exhibitor -- to open 13 digital systems between now and next year.
Korea's leading exhibitor also inked a joint-venture partnership yesterday, with plans to open 15 IMAX screens in China. It's IMAX's largest theater deal in Asia.
IMAX has signed deals for 168 installations this year, a far cry from the 35 system signings through all of last year. Even the 28 screens that were tossed yesterday into the company's growing backlog of future orders rival the total 2009 singings.
Exhibitors are turning to enhancing theatrical experiences to justify premiums. It's the obvious way to make the most of flattish attendance trends, without having to jack up the already insanely priced concessions even higher.
Theater operators don't have much of a choice. Digitally distributed piracy, narrowing release windows, and beefed up home theater systems find multiplex owners scrambling to up their game.
It doesn't end here. IMAX joined nanotechnology incubator Harris & Harris (Nasdaq: TINY ) and several other investors in funding a financing round by Laser Light Engines today. IMAX is already a strategic partner with the company, working on a lighting system that is far brighter than the Xenon bulb traditionally used in 3-D projections.
Yes, even today's 3-D screenings -- blown up on IMAX -- isn't enough. Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) has been advertising 3-D flat screens heading into the critical holiday season. IMAX has some skin in that game, teaming up with Sony (NYSE: SNE ) and Discovery (Nasdaq: DISCK ) on a digital 3-D cable channel, but exhibitors will need to invest in making sure that their product is several steps ahead of what couch potatoes are getting.
IMAX, for one, is certainly moving pretty fast these days. After inking deals for 28 new systems yesterday, who knows what tomorrow will bring.
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